Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Obama's Gun Control Prescription

First, the Drudge summary:

Obama using gun issue to advance health law...
Presses doctors to ask patients about guns in home...
'Health care providers' to offer gun safety tips...
At least $4.5 billion in new spending...
Ignores violent movies, video games...


That's a pithy summary of the most troublesome portion of Obama's plan. Pitched to the nation by exploiting children as pawns, Obama's plan includes just one thing that might have prevented the Sandy Hook massacre: $150 million to “put up to 1,000 new school resource officers and school counselors on the job.” As I understand the term "school resource officer," that refers to armed law enforcement officers assigned directly to a school. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't that the NRA solution that the far left spent the past few weeks savaging?

Much of what is on Obama's wish list has nothing to do with Sandy Hook and everything to do with the laundry list of gun control proposals the far left has been advocating for years. At the top of his list, a new "assault weapons ban" and a limit on magazine capacity to ten rounds. Neither has a snowball's chance in hell of passage in Congress and, indeed, will likely never see a vote.

Obama's other legislative proposals come with a price tag. This from the Weekly Standard:

• $4 billion for the president’s proposal “to help keep 15,000 cops on the streets in cities and towns across the country.” (That is roughly $266,000 per police officer.)

• $20 million to “give states stronger incentives to make [relevant] data available [for background checks] … “$50 million for this purpose in FY2014”

• “$14 million to help train 14,000 more police officers and other public and private personnel to respond to active shooter situations.”

• “$10 million for the Centers for Disease Control to conduct further research, including investigating the relationship between video games, media images, and violence.”

• $20 million to expand the National Violent Death Reporting System.

• $150 million to “put up to 1,000 new school resource officers and school counselors on the job.”

• “$30 million of one-time grants to states to help their school districts develop and implement emergency management plans.”

• $50 million to help 8,000 schools “create safer and more nurturing school climates.”

• $15 million to “provide “Mental Health First Aid” training for teachers.”

• $40 million for school districts to “work with law enforcement, mental health agencies, and other local organizations to assure students with mental health issues or other behavioral issues are referred to the services they need.”

• $25 million for state-based strategies that support “young people ages 16 to 25 with mental health or substance abuse issues.”

• $25 million to “offer students mental health services for trauma or anxiety, conflict resolution programs, and other school-based violence prevention strategies.”

• $50 million to “train social workers, counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals.”

I can't see much, if any of that legislation, getting passed, at least as itemized by Obama. On the two issues on which left and right have some common ground, background checks and mental health, there is still a great deal of legitimate mistrust that the left will try to shoehorn these into a backdoor means of improperly denying people their 2nd Amendment rights.

As to the mental health issue, the core problem is that our laws make it difficult if not impossible to institutionalize someone who could well turn violent. Nothing in these proposals addresses that problem. Moreover, all mental illness is not equal. Step one would be to identify which mental health issues are so severe as to make an individual dangerous to himself or others, thus establishing a standard upon which to allow or deny a person their 2nd Amendment right. A related issue needs to be made as to when any such ban should be lifted after an individual has successfully been treated. Without any of those issues clearly addressed, the Obama solution of throwing hundreds of millions at mental health does nothing to address Sandy Hook or Second Amemdment concerns.

As to Obama's twenty-three Executive Orders, conservatives can now exhale for the most part. The majority of the Orders are nothing more than Obama telling government agencies to do the jobs that they are tasked by law to do - a point The Everlasting Phelps makes with good humor. The majority of the Orders do nothing other than give the appearance of motion.

That said, the most troubling of the Orders were identified in the Drudge headline at the top of the page, linking to a post by The Weekly Standard:

According to a background briefer provided by the White House, President Barack Obama is asking doctors to help deal with guns. Here's the relevant passage:

PRESERVE THE RIGHTS OF HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS TO PROTECT THEIR PATIENTS AND COMMUNITIES FROM GUN VIOLENCE: We should never ask doctors and other health care providers to turn a blind eye to the risks posed by guns in the wrong hands.

 Clarify that no federal law prevents health care providers from warning law enforcement authorities about threats of violence: Doctors and other mental health professionals play an important role in protecting the safety of their patients and the broader community by reporting direct and credible threats of violence to the authorities. But there is public confusion about whether federal law prohibits such reports about threats of violence. The Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits these reports in any way.

 Protect the rights of health care providers to talk to their patients about gun safety: Doctors and other health care providers also need to be able to ask about firearms in their patients’ homes and safe storage of those firearms, especially if their patients show signs of certain mental illnesses or if they have a young child or mentally ill family member at home. Some have incorrectly claimed that language in the Affordable Care Act prohibits doctors from asking their patients about guns and gun safety. Medical groups also continue to fight against state laws attempting to ban doctors from asking these questions. The Administration will issue guidance clarifying that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit or otherwise regulate communication between doctors and patients, including about firearms.

There are real problems with doctors insinuating themselves into what decisions a person makes regarding guns, problems multiplied exponentially at the thought of doctors who may not be specialists in mental health reporting on people for violent tendencies. That sets up a truly adversarial relationship between patient and doctor, making the doctor an agent of the state.

This may indeed be more insidious than even appears at first blush. This from a commentor at Legal Insurrection suggests a plausible scenario that is troubling indeed:

What these do is utilize the medical/mental health health records (that were created by Obamacare) as the new database to determine the criteria for gun permits. What people miss, is that this isn’t just about your doctor asking if you own a gun. This is about you, your spouse, or your child(ren) telling a doctor, therapist, or school psychologist that they feel depressed, anxious, suicidal, fearful, or that they have a condition that requires psychiatric medication. Once you have been treated and given your psych meds, your doctor/therapist writes notes. These notes are what are submitted to insurance companies for payment. Medicaid already has a system set up to screen notes & treatment plans to determine if they will pay and cover future treatment. Once these agencies have open access to each others database (executive order #1) this will be used to determine if you are qualified to have a gun permit or to pass a background check. This and #4 are the most concerning of these orders. . . .

This is one that requires far greater analysis from 2nd Amendment supporters,

So what was missing from Obama's plan?

One, missing was any suggestion to expand on "gun free zone" legislation. That was smart on the part of Obama. Gun free zones only insure that when a bad guy with a gun shows up, the law abiding will be disarmed. That was perhaps the central lesson of Sandy Hook. Obama would have been savaged if he had tried to expand on gun free zones.

Two, missing from Obama's plan was any discussion of the role of Hollywood and violent video games in promoting violence in our society. Could that have been a simple oversight?

Lastly missing, since this was a global solution proposed by Obama to gun violence, was any sort of recognition that much of the violence in our country is, one, gang related, and two, most often carried out by an identifiable subset of society. I was waiting for Obama to tell us that FBI statistics show that over 50% of our nation's homicides are carried out by blacks who make up just over 13% of the population. Without that, this was not a serious attempt to address the underlying causes of gun violence, it was a far left offensive on our 2nd Amendment rights.

At any rate, this dog and pony show over the past month was a huge build-up to, mostly, a molehill. There may be some movement on background checks if the left acts in good faith and doesn't try to create yet another back door to gun control. The interplay between healthcare providers and 2nd Amendment rights deserves a colonoscopic level of scrutiny. That said, the real issues of Sandy Hook, a broken mental healthcare system for the seriously mentally ill, gun free zones and the lack of a good guy with a gun at the point of the crime, those were ignored by Obama.

Update: Mice Deb has a great roll-up of reaction to Obama's gun control proposals.

1 comment:

Ex-Dissident said...

GW, so much with Obama is a distraction tactic. The legislation passed in NY state was pretty nasty and I believe that MA, Illinois, and California will come up with more nastiness. Socialists do want a disarmed population and Obama will facilitate this. Right now though, while Bloomberg et al. pushes this attack on 2nd amendment through state legislature, Obama can work other angles to destroy this country. The list of candidates he has for cabinet positions are preposterous, and I think his real focus now is to secure more spending money for his cronies.